Play: Prophetess Libuše and Other Czech Fairytales
Venue: Friargate Theatre
Date: Wednesday 21st – Friday 23rd November
Director: Emma Miles and Ollie Jones
Produced by York’s very own ‘Rubber Duck Theatre’, this play follows on from successful productions of Dahl’s ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ and ‘The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me’. An adaptation of Czech fairytales thus seems a stark departure from the RDT’s usual repertoire, but the company clearly strove to broaden the work’s appeal by exploiting the comic potential of the tales.
The three male actors did their best to provide some light-heartedness by over-acting in highly camp style each of their various roles, most notably through an array of comic accents. These ranged from an evil cackle of which any pantomime villain would have been proud, to a gruff Yorkshire burr, which proved uncannily apt for the cynical grumbles of a simple labourer.
However, whilst the male actors appeared convinced that they were in a farce, the four female members of the cast were earnestly going about their business in what seemed an altogether more grave play. This jarring combination was mirrored in the awkward union of different theatrical techniques such as the shadow puppet stage that stood redundant for most of the play.
Equally disconcerting were those moments when it was unclear whether the comedy was intentional or not: during the apparently serious scene with the talking (not to mention flying) horse the entire audience seemed tempted to laugh, and were prevented only by the forbidding looks on the faces of the cast (and the very severe looking papier-mache horse).